The Helicopter Parent Goes to College

The Helicopter Parent Goes to College

Oct 20, 2015 / By : / Category : Campus Visit, Recruiting Process

Helicopter Parenting

Too many of you are helicopter parents. I admit, I am too. Is there a way we can do it well?

What is the role of parents during the recruiting process? How can you help your child through the process without hovering right over head?

Who is leading?

It is a tricky business leading your child through the recruiting process. I used two words in that statement on purpose. You are, or should be, the one “leading.” You are the one with the experience and wisdom that years of living life bring. Your teenager is your “child.” Though they are now a young adult, this is your child.

Time for your Child to Stand Up

The university and college coaches look at your child as a young adult. They are looking at the student-athlete who will be living on campus away from their parents. They realize the necessity for the student/athlete/child to be standing on their own two feet if they are going to be able to handle the college experience.

What is the Role of the Parent?

I have found the best situations are the ones where the parent is leading and affecting what is going on but tries to stay in the background.

It is your job to assist, and force if need be, your student athlete through the process. There were countless times I told my daughter, “You need to call your admissions counselor and ask X.” She’d moan and complain, but when she realized no one else was going to call, she’d pick up the phone. A fellow coach phrased the end goal well, “The student needs to be more empowered to independently make choices.” The key is empowered.

Empower and Support

When researching colleges, make sure your child is really doing it. Talk through the pros and cons of what they have found. If they don’t have any pros or cons, maybe they haven’t done their research. What will it mean if they choose a school far from home versus nearby. Have them tell you their priorities. If they’re sending out an email talk through the key points beforehand, and check the email before they send it, but let your child do all the real work.

The idea is not to throw your child out into the wind and see where they are blown. You are their bulwark. You provide the structure from which they can begin to stand on their own, yet still have the safety and guidance. And yes, you still provide the final word!

What the College Coach Sees

It is your responsibility to guide your child in research and contacting coaches. Always let them be the one who makes contact with the coach. A coach will see a red flag when the parent is out in front. This often indicates an immature recruit or one who is less excited about the school than their parent.

Danny Owens of William Carey University expressed what many coaches believe in an interview with me. “For me, I typically speak to the recruit the majority of the time in the recruiting process. I do speak with the parents on a visit or if we are discussing finances or answering questions, but after that, I will mostly talk with the recruit. I am sure I have lost recruits for not including the parents more in the process, but I want the recruit to feel comfortable with me and the program and I want them to ultimately make the decision to come here. If that decision is made by the recruit, then I feel they have made the right decision and will graduate in their 4 years.”  (The full interview will be posted October 29)

How to Help

I would advise you to help them with their emails and communication. Be their adviser. Be their editor. Help them know when it is appropriate to take different actions.

Prepare your child for a campus visit ahead of time. Remind them to look the coach in the eyes, to avoid one word answers, and to relax and be themselves. Help your child brainstorm a list of questions they should ask, and both of you should be participating.

Be in the Background

Visit campus with your child and be in every meeting you are allowed to be in. Sit with your child as they talk to the coach.

No matter how hard it is for you in the meeting, be pleasant, but do NOT take over. The coach is trying to figure out if they would like to spend the next four years coaching your child, not you. You need to let your child rise or fall with their communication skills. Once out from under your roof they will have to do this. The college environment begins here.

I’m not telling you to be invisible. I am telling you to be there as an adviser not the center of the show.

Can Parents Have a Relationship with the Coach?

After all I have said about staying in the background, I must say that I have gotten to know many of my players’ parents over the years and become friends with some of them. Having a relationship with your child’s coach is a positive thing, but treat that relationship with care. It is primarily your child’s relationship, not yours. There is no one size fits all. There were parents I never spoke to, and it had no impact on their daughter’s playing time or how I treated her. Take your cues from the coach.

Interacting with Admissions

With admissions and financial aid your role is a bit different. This part of the process is definitely in need of both parent and child involvement to be successful.

While on campus, be a bit more reserved with admissions. Prepare your child, be largely in the background, though talk and be pleasant. You may have some thoughts and questions that come up, by all means ask.

Interacting with Financial Aid

In the financial aid department, you lead. Your 17 year old has very little to contribute to this conversation. Make sure they listen and are attentive, but the conversation is revolving around large amounts of money and big decisions. This conversation will be more constructive for you than your child.

Together you Can

Take everything you have learned as a parent and fit it in with what your teenager is thinking. Together, you can establish a great plan!

Next, take a look at Preparing a Recruiting Video.

LIKE WHAT YOU READ?

You can get 90% of the information for free on this site. However, if you want all of the information in one place and logically laid out, The Recruiting Code book is for you.

Keep in the conversation,

Bryan

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